European Cruising Meets Dutch Heritage in St. Maarten
Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Just after eight o’clock this morning, MSC Cruises’ MSC Divina came alongside in the island paradise that is Philipsburg, St. Maarten.
Discovered by Christopher Columbus on November 11, 1493, the town itself was actually founded nearly 300 years later. In 1763, John Philips – a Scottish captain serving in the Dutch navy – officially created the town, humbly naming it in honour of his own glorious visage.
But St. Maarten isn’t just a Dutch Overseas Colony. No. It’s also a French Overseas Territory, with the town of Marigot serving as the capital of the French side of the island, Sint Marten. Because of its dual Dutch/French heritage, the atmosphere on the island is a curious blend of Europeanism and Caribbean traditions all wrapped into one. St. Maarten is an independent colony of the Netherlands; the French side is part of the Eurozone – making the island one of the only places in the world where you can actually cross into Europe without border controls.